Vishal Garg, the Indian-origin CEO of better[dot]com, grabbed news headlines since the time he abruptly fired more than 900 employees, about 9% of the workforce, in the course of a Zoom call. In a video that has gone viral, Garg could be heard telling the employees of the US-based homeownership company last Wednesday they were being fired over market efficiency, performance and productivity.
The video was reportedly recorded by one of the employees.
“If you’re on this call, you are part of the unlucky group that is being laid off. Your employment here is terminated effective immediately,” the CEO said on the call of his decision that will affect workers mainly from India and the US.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Garg is the founder and the current CEO of better[dot]com, “the first and only digital-first homeownership company whose goal is to make (the) home more affordable, more accessible and just plain better, for all Americans and eventually everyone else.”
“To date, under Vishal’s leadership, Better.com has provided over $ 40 BN in home financing and provided over $ 16BN in cumulative coverage through Better Cover and Better Settlement Services, the insurance divisions of Better.com. Better.com has raised over $ 400M in equity capital and is backed by SoftBank, L Catterton, Kleiner Perkins, Goldman Sachs, Ally Bank, American Express, Citi and other investors,” the description about him says.
The news-making CEO is also the founding partner of One Zero Capital, an investment holding company.
“At 21 years old, Vishal dropped out of the investment banking analyst program at Morgan Stanley and started MyRichUncle, which became the second-largest private student lender in the United States. It went public in 2005 and was subsequently acquired by Merrill Lynch, which was then acquired by Bank of America,” it adds.
According to reports, Garg moved to New York from India with his family when he was seven years old. Garg’s profile shows he studied finance and international business at the Leonard N Stern School of Business under New York University from 1995 to 1998. He attended Stuyvesant High School from 1991 to 1995.
During the fateful Zoom call, Vishal Garg said employees could expect an email from the Human Resource department, detailing benefits and severance. “This is the second time in my career I’m doing this and I do not want to do this. The last time I did it, I cried,” Garg said on the call.
According to a Fortune report, Garg accused employees of “stealing” from their colleagues and customers by being unproductive and only working two hours a day.
CNN has reported, citing an email Garg sent to staff that was obtained by Forbes: “You are TOO DAMN SLOW. You are a bunch of DUMB DOLPHINS… SO STOP IT. STOP IT. STOP IT RIGHT NOW. YOU ARE EMBARRASSING ME,” he wrote.
Here’s the video again in case YouTube or The Guardian pulls it down: